What We Can Do
What can we do about nuclear weapons? We frequently minimize our ability to bring about large-scale change. Individual contributions lead to group, community, and societal transformations which improve conditions and change lives. Individual inaction results in status quo or regression. Let me offer a three-part approach that utilizes education, engagement, and empathy – not necessarily in an exact order and once undertaken, a continuous process to a level of personal capacity.
Become educated on the topic of nuclear weapons. I’m presenting one viewpoint, one that is incomplete or probably, despite my effort and intention, erroneous at times. Whether I’m teaching, coaching, or leading, I say take what you can from me, but seek elsewhere for knowledge that resonates and is useful. Information is out there for you to integrate into your worldview. Get on your device and browser of choice. Search nuclear war threat and then nuclear war prevention. Read John Hersey’ essay, Hiroshima. It’s okay, you can skim. He captures the efficient deadliness of a single smaller 1940’s era nuclear bomb. Massive physical destruction, immediate carnage, slow agonizing death over weeks, and future suffering of both a physical and psychological nature are conveyed. Hersey’s piece might be the closest you can come to horrors of an actual nuclear detonation on a city without experiencing it directly. When you are comfortable, tell others about nukes, their numbers, their force, their inability to discern who lives and dies. Share your thoughts on nuclear weapons. Set in motion conditions for others to thinking and act upon our collective challenge. Maybe even drop a line to congress – it’s amazing how responsive they can be to their constituents; especially when a theme’s cropping up.
Engage, join, get involved, contribute if you can. Plenty of organizations take up the good fight. Regardless of age, religion, profession, politics, there is something for everybody. People come at the challenge from the vantage of lawyers, doctors, students, scientists, diplomats, priests, and activists. Some do it in combination with efforts like environmentalism. Which begs a question, nukes or climate, where to put our energy? Again, a seeming paradox, but we can do both. More is in common than not. Where do they overlap? They are both catastrophic for the environment. Each has the capacity to initiate an apocalypse resulting in species die-off. Both contribute to our collective stress. Addressing only one makes the other moot. If the world is destroyed by nukes, temperatures fall over time, but few, if any, are left to care.
There’s one more thing we can each do. We can employ empathy towards self and others. A number of things make nukes terrifying. First, there is their capability, singularly or in waves, for massive initial destruction. They don’t stop killing after detonation; their radiation effects are continuous and insidious. The accuracy of their guidance systems allows them to come from a variety of means to be delivered anywhere. It gets worse, we now have hypersonic missiles on deck. The rapidity of their deployment astounds; after strikes and counterstrikes, potential death comes to millions of humans, even billions, in the space of a half hour. Not an ending we would want for anyone. Instead, we humans have dulled our senses to mechanized killing that comes with each technological advance in weaponry. From knife to gun to artillery to manned bomber to remote piloted explosive, we distance ourselves from the actual act. Given man’s predilection for violence, it is a wonder that we have not destroyed all…yet. Extending empathy brings us back to questioning and objecting, more deeply, to the use of weapons systems that kill, without remorse, our neighbors and us. Caring deeply for self and others makes us wonder how did we get here and what it’s going to take to reverse the course.
I invite you to ask yourself some questions:
Were you aware of the volume and risk of nuclear weapons?
If you asked others, at work, at home, in your community, would they know the volume and risk of nuclear weapons.
Given the lethality of nuclear weapons, regional tensions, and uneven leadership, can you continue to stand by while the threat grows for you and your loved ones?
Nobody has asked your opinion, yet decisions are being made that have endanger you and those you love. In regards to nuclear weapons, research what is happening around the globe, consider potential damage to all you know, review alternatives, get involved, demand change.
If enough of make this a focus, we can achieve something akin to the nuclear arms reduction of the 1980s. If we push wider, harder, and longer, we may accomplish something even greater – eliminating an immediate and pervasive threat to all life.
Dr. Chuck Powell is a Daisy Alliance board member and the CEO for Encompassing Leadership Associates. He specializes in leadership development at the individual and team levels, executive and life coaching, organizational development, and healthcare consulting services. Dr. Powell has served as a caregiver for thousands of patients, an Air Force officer with joint authority for up to 150 nuclear warheads, and a healthcare executive in rural, for profit, and academic settings.
Dr. Powell will be giving a companion talk to his blog piece, On High Alert: An insider's perspective on US nuclear posture, on Tuesday November 15, 2022. For more information or to register for this talk, email firstname.lastname@example.org. This talk is part of Daisy Alliance's monthly virtual lecture series, Spotlight on Nuclear Weapons Issues.